Tag Archives: redwood tree

A Stormy Day

RedwoodWhat a storm last week — The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. I looked out the window and saw that my redwood tree was toppled over, the pot in shards. All the other tall potted plants were on their side as well, but with their pots intact. Plastic chairs — upside down, scattered around. As I surveyed the scenery  I resolved to plant the redwood tree in a wine barrel so this would not happen again (much to the consternation of the clay pot industry no doubt). My poor frail tree had already gone through too much with the recent move (and I don’t think redwoods are particularly inclined or fond of travel at 60 m.p.h. in the back of pickup trucks). He lost at least half of his needles, and then I had to trim out the brown dried needles that appeared soon after the move, leaving a skeletal tree. Mind you, I got him as a seedling in Muir Woods, and he is now taller than my middle brother. With great joy I saw fresh growth the week before last, after our first California fall rain. I had watered him every day before that. Now — with triple the amount of soil around the roots in a wine barrel, he should flourish. But I’m jumping ahead.

After the chair mess was cleaned up, and the other plants righted, I drove to a nearby hardware store to buy a half wine barrel — I remembered, that they had a few left on sale. The clerk loaded the barrel for me, as well as two bags of soil.

Arriving back at my apartment, I saw the kid who lives below me, playing with some friends in the back I had not seen before. As I carried the half wine barrel to the back, I was inundated with questions about the fallen tree, the wine barrel, the storm, and many more. I explained to them what my plan was, and all the kids got very excited and asked if they could help. Such enthusiasm! I let two of them (4 and 5 years old) carry a bag of soil from the car to the back struggling mightily, but determined. I had to chuckle at their excited faces. Then one of them held the tree straight, as the others poured soil around it, tapping it down. Then they added some mulch on top. I rewarded the kids with some Pepperidge Farm goldfish I found in the car. I deemed it wise to water the tree myself, as I know the possibilities of what can happen with a garden hose. Next I brought down my cat Calvin, who was greeted enthusiastically, and promptly vanished very quickly, underneath the shed.

Have a blessed and grateful Thanksgiving week, and count your blessings, if you can be with family

Early January observations

LemonsOn my way to the market the other day, I passed a drugstore that had a pair of small Christmas trees sitting forlornly in front of it, but at a substantial 50% off, hoping to entice a buyer that had overslept. Mid-January might be a tad late for such a purchase, but I think the unwanted trees would perhaps still make some good kindling for the fireplace, which would be better than throwing them out. At least these two specimens were still green and standing upright. Further down the street, I saw a dried out tree flat on its back, just thoughtlessly discarded at the curb. This is the reason why I prefer live Christmas trees you can re-use every year. My acting Christmas tree prior to my current redwood tree, was a sequoia soquel (talk about a lot of vowels in that first word!) that unfortunately dried out in the process of transferring it from a broken pot into the ground, while I was laid up after back surgery several years ago. My son Patrick who was far away in Senegal at the time, later transplanted it for me when he came home, but the roots of the tree had dried out as had the rest of the tree. I had hopes that it would come back during the next spring, but it was not to be. I was sad when the sequoia died, it was a beautiful tree I had tended to since it was a six inch sapling.

Headed over to San Francisco where I had to tend to some errands I passed a store with a sign that read: “Santas looking for good homes: 2 for the price of 1.” The subjects in question where made of chocolate and stood a good two feet tall. A bargain for the chocolate lover no doubt. After my errand, and the Santa encounter, I stopped in a restaurant for a café creme. I sat inside by the window looking out at their outdoor garden seating, the sun filtering lazily between the buildings. A lemon tree on the side of the outdoor patio caught my eye. Having grown up in a cold winter climate, it is still amazing to me to see  lemons growing outside in January. Still green, the lemons hope to become lemonade one day, I would suspect.

Last note: ice on my bird bath/community drinking fountain this morning! Alaska, you may keep that cold air to yourself, if you please.

Have a blessed week,

Matthias Leue

Ducks and Monday morning musings

"My" two ducks

“My” two ducks


I took a short walk on Saturday to visit two of my fine feathered friends, a pair of ducks with colorful plumage who frequent a pond in a nearby park. They are always happy to see me. I wonder, do they recognize me by now? I’m pretty sure they can identify the bread inside the plastic bag I carry in my vest pocket. They were swimming their usual circles in their winter habitat, surrounded however by a good dozen or more geese who were being rather intrusive as far as bread crumb gathering and distribution was concerned. Two of them actually started an ongoing fight, despite the fact they both had a piece of bread in front of them. I have never been fond of geese (not even when cooked). They may look nice flying in formation, but they are a pushy noisy bunch, not to mention the mess they leave behind. What amused me is that the ducks climbed up out of the pond onto the small ledge in order to be in closer proximity to the bread crumb dispenser. They were duly rewarded, while the riff-raff on the pond was busy fighting with each other. When the bread was gone I was able to briefly stroke the dark-feathered duck as it went back into its nautical domain. It was also surprising to note, that the duck undercarriage when out of the water elevates the whole duck by quite a bit.

Yesterday was 3 Kings (Epiphnanias), and in the German Lutheran tradition the day afterwards is the time when the Christmas tree decorations are taken down, so that’s one of my chores for today, after finishing writing this blog. I guess that’s part of the holiday blahs and blues, putting things back into the box for another year. Thank God New Year’s Day was such a sunny and beautiful day. For Christmas, my potted indoor redwood tree served as the Christmas tree, and was decorated by my youngest son Patrick and his girlfriend Hannah who came down to visit from Portland. A fine job they did too, keeping most of the ornaments out of my cat Calvin’s reach.

As I look at the trees outside my window over the top of my computer screen, I see that they are finally losing their last leaves, the last deciduous hold-outs of the season. The forecast cold nights and rain later in the week should help them in attaining their proper January tree appearance.

Have a blessed week,

Matthias Leue

P.S. Can anyone help me to identify the bird species swimming along with the two ducks?